German recipes are often well-guarded precious family traditions, carried throughout the generations. In my husband’s family, the German recipes are typically passed down from grandparents to grandchildren.
One of the highlights of any German harvest festival (Erntedankfest), music fest (like the Beethoven festival), or Oktoberfest party is the Bowle.
There are many varieties of Bowle, a popular party drink often left out of German recipe books. “Bowle” is just another word for punch.
Though Oktoberfest is best known for beer, nothing is more appreciated at a themed party than a refreshing Bowle, either of the alcoholic or the non-alcoholic variety.
The Bowle itself serves as an enchanting centerpiece, with its typically colorful presentation.
From the closely related Christmas classic Wassail to the seasonal Erdbeer Bowle made with strawberry wine, German recipes for punch are often treasured family traditions, and they can make parties so much nicer!
Though early-season recipes are often spiced with woodruff, Bowle recipes made later in the year include a variety of flavorful fresh ingredients.
Here are five German Bowle recipes, in English.
Please note: it is best to use fresh fruit for Bowle recipes. But when fresh is unavailable, substituting frozen fruit is acceptable in most cases.
For alcoholic versions, please allow for plenty of time for the fruit to soak prior to serving, as the alcohol-soaked fruit is considered a treat in itself!
German Bowle Recipes
Melonenbowle mit Birne (Melon Punch with Pear)
The last melons of the summer season make the perfect presentation for this punch, which consists of melon, pear, and a dry white wine.
This is actually two recipes in one. Although melons that are more pale in color are preferred, such as honeydew and cantaloupe, watermelon can be substituted if it is still available, or if you’re making this in the middle of the summer rather than for Oktoberfest.
The wine that is recommended for use in either version is slightly different (see the notes section of this recipe for more information). In either case, I like to use a melon baller for this recipe, to give the fruit that extra special touch. And the shell of the fruit itself can make a lovely decorative serving bowl, if it’s large enough.
- 1 large orange fleshed melon (for summer, try watermelon)
- 2 bottles white wine*
- 2 cups sliced pear very ripe
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 1 Tbsp honey
- Fresh mint leaves for garnish
- coarse or raw sugar for garnish
- With a large serrated knife, cut a bit off the base of the melon (only 1/10 of the rind, do not cut into the flesh) so it can stand up like a bowl.** Cut the top off the melon.
- Remove the seeds and carve out or use a melon baller to remove most of the melon flesh.
- Be sure to leave plenty of melon to line the bowl. In a glass bowl, pour 4c wine mixed with 3T of the sugar over the melon flesh (cut into cubes or balled) and 1c pear slices. Do not mix, as it might cause the pear to break into pieces.
- Cover the bowl with saran wrap. Allow wine and fruit to soak in refrigerator for 6 – 8 hours. Chill the remainder of the wine and the melon bowl(s).
- To prepare the bowle, remove the melon bowl from the refrigerator and an unopened bottle of wine.
- Carefully dip the cut edge of the top of the melon in honey.
- Set honeyed edge on a paper plate covered in coarse or sanding sugar to transfer crystals. Turn melon upright.
- Fill the melon 1/2 full with the wine and add peppermint extract. Very carefully spoon the chilled wine-soaked fruit into the melon to a good height.
- Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
- It is proper to serve with clear picks (a garnish of a single piece of melon with a pick inserted) for those who enjoy eating the soaked fruit.
*Spumante (sparkling white wine, preferably dry VERY CHILLED Prosecco. If Watermelon is preferred, choose a rose wine for both color and flavor.)
** For an interesting party theme, choose very small melons so each guest has their own drink.
Mulled Apfelwein Bowle (Hard Cider Punch)
This recipe is one that’s particularly delicious when it’s made completely from scratch. My husband’s family makes this drink in the fall, and it can definitely knock your socks off, depending on who brewed the Apfelwein!
The flavor is that of a hearty cider with a kick, and it is commonly served warm.
Hard Cider Punch – Get the Recipe Now
Kirsche Colabierbowle (Cherry Cola Beer Punch)
A wonderful party punch for football season, this drink is a delight on game day.
The flavor is somewhat unusual, but it’s liked by those who appreciate a flavorful beer combined with sweet cherry and fizzy cola. This Bowle is best served out of a glass pitcher that’s been chilled well.
Cherry Cola Beer Punch – Get the Recipe Now
Moosbeereherbstblätter Bowle (Cranberry Autumn Leaves Punch)
This option has the look of beautiful autumn leaves, with the addition of delicious cranberry juice. Move over Cosmopolitan – this drink is a real stunner.
Cranberry Autumn Leaves Punch – Get the Recipe Now
Gespenstischbowle (Spooky Punch)
This punch has a creative presentation that requires a bit of panache to make it a Halloween hit! Be the first to try this trick, made with a variety of fruit juices and liqueurs, and creepy hand-shaped ice.
Spooky Punch – Get the Recipe Now
Punch Up Your Favorite Cocktails for Entertaining
I really hope you enjoy these Bowle recipes. I have tried all of these, sometimes with non-alcoholic substitutions like ginger ale or club soda.
Drinking a few ladlefuls of this celebratory German beverage is a lovely experience, rooted in a love of life and celebration of the seasons. Sometimes, a homemade Bowle is itself the life of the party.
Have you tried any of these recipes at home? Tell me about your experience in the comments!
And for even more delicious cocktails to get the party started, bookmark these homemade options to try next:
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos via Shutterstock.
26 thoughts on “Make a Delicious German “Bowle” for Oktoberfest”
I’d really love to indulge in the spooky punch, nearly a mixture of almost every kind of juice…too bad am restricted of alcohol, so the rum , white wine and vodka have to be de-listed 🙁
The Cranberry Autumn Leaves Punch looks absolutely delicious! I am going to try one of these recipes when October rolls around this year. My family indulges in beer around Oktoberfest but I am not a big beer drinker. These punch recipes will make a great addition to our gatherings and allow other non beer drinkers to try something tasty and traditional as well! Thank you!
Seems like the perfect time of the year to serve it up too. I cannot say I have ever had anything called Autumn Leaves before, but it just has a sort of ring to it that makes me really want to try it, like right now. I love this time of the year and this sounds perfect right about now.
I’m so glad your lovely watermelon bowl picture drew me in to read this article, because all of the recipes sound delicious. I can see myself using each one in a different season, and the watermelon one will be perfect for the upcoming Summer season. I love the mixture of flavors in the others as well, and I’m looking forward to trying them all!
I love love love these recipe ideas. Like someone stated in a previous comment, I can’t wait to try a couple of them in the fall months. How wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m always looking for a concoction to share with friends when they visit, and these seem perfect!
Wow, great idea. My gears are already turning, thinking about all of the creative ways I can use this idea. I especially like the recipe for the Mulled Apfelwein Bowle. That one will definitely be making a guest appearance in our home very soon. Has anyone tried one of these yet?
Oh wow all of these just look absolutely delicious! I always like my drinks to be extra fruity and I’m pretty sure I’m going to try these recipes on the regular. In fact I am going to try that spooky punch now, why wait till Halloween?
We were just on about edible bowl recipes but I love that you can also make a punch bowl from a melon. This is such a festive and fun idea. I’m always looking for great ways to present food and beverages at get-togethers. This is very cool. It might not be edible, but it’s still part of the food. I love it.
These look really great. Especially the watermelon bowl, The combinations look outrageous on these. Really nice presentation for parties. I’m really wanting to try these to serve up.
These could be made as non-alcoholic drinks. You would just have to figure out what to substitute in place of that.The spooky punch I would do; peach juice, sparkling mineral water, and lemon juice. The spiced rum would be the tricky one. Maybe cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg blended with a liquid on the side before you mix with the rest. I don’t know what I would use.I guess one of the other juices. You would just have to make sure you are putting in the same amount of liquid.
I agree with dawnolsen, this would be a great people pleasure for gatherings that include non-beer drinkers. Those are few and far between in our family – however my hubs is actually one of them. I’m usually looking for delicious thinks for EVERYONE to enjoy so that no one person feels awkward about their choices. (I know he feels like it degrades him as a man being the only non-beer drinker in a group).
To make this spookier for Halloween, I think it would be great to either cut the watermelon into fingers, or maybe cut a bit of the rind with it so that they look like eyeballs. Maybe have one of those “ghost hands” made with ice in a latex glove floating around in the watermelon. I love all of these.. every bit looks delicious. Thanks for sharing these ideas!
I do like the look of the first recipe with the melons. How long would it take for fruits to soak up the flavor of the alcohol? I once had a strawberry injected with alcohol but that’s not the same as soaking it. I like to see how other cultures make their own versions of party punch. Who says you have to have the same boring drink?
Not only they taste good but also they look great! They are actually kind of cute and also cool to make for a party with friends;)
I just love visiting this site when time allows. There are so many great recipes here, and me being a huge fruit lover this one caught my eye. I love the thought of using the shell of fruits and vegetables as serve-ware . That is very convenient and green. Looks amazing and tasty.
I am half-German and know different types of bowle also this one and this one is really yummy. I have to recommend it to more people. Thanks for sharing!
I had no idea that this was a tradition, it’s always a good thing to get to learn new stuff, especially when it’s about cultures, they are always interesting.
I really like the idea that these drinks can be prepared with or without alcohol, personally, I’m looking forward to make the melonenbowle mint birne, as a white wine enthusiast the idea of mixing it with melon is just irresistible. And also, they all in general look extremely good, homemade and of course extremely refreshing.
Woahhhhhh, I never would’ve thought that my dad’s random “cooking” (what do you call making a drink/juice? hm… I’m not really well-versed for this) would be, in fact, a real recipe! A German one at that! We have a fruit scoop/carver and my dad used to carve balls out of watermelons and melons then put them on a glass 🙂 My dad doesn’t use wine/alcohol though (I was a minor then, along with my sister), but rather, he puts in either water or juice if we have them 🙂 Then he’ll mix some honey/sugar sometimes (if it’s water and if the fruits aren’t sweet enough).
Well we are not a German family, but if there is something that involves alcohol soaked fruit, I am pretty sure that we would be okay posing as Germans for one day to get to enjoy that. This does sound delicious, and it really seems like it would get the party started, depending on how strong you want to make it. I would have to start light as to not mess up the recipe, but then the fun comes in experimentation. Thanks for sharing.
Well, I personally had never seen anything like this before, that’s such a great idea, especially because you can give watermelon’s shell a really cool use, now I know where I’m going to pour the wine in my next party, this really looks amazing, I will definitely try this out this one, thank you for sharing it!
While I’m not normally one for sweet drinks (IPA or highway myself) I can’t help but really want most of these. ESPECIALLY the pear beverage. I just find that pear is really underrepresented in beverages and it’s great to see more drink recipes using them in it. Now if only I could find some sausage to go with it!
These sound amazing, not going to lie. I would love to try a couple of these. Though, I do think I would probably make a non-alcoholic version instead since I have children, and my fiance does not drink. I only have a single drink every couple years. They sound delicious though!
Never heard of the terms “bowle” before but it does sound better than “punch” for sure, Germans win in this regard. As for the recipes, I have to say that I’m not a fan of the ingredients. I would much rather have a Bowle with apples and watermelon, that can be a great combination for parties. Add a little bit of mint too and it should taste awesome.
I really like the Mulled Apfelwein Bowle. It seems like a great fall and winter drink. For my fellow Pagans and Wiccans, the holiday of Mabon is fast approaching, and this would be a great drink to take to a potluck. I wonder if you could serve it in little hollowed-out apples (the really big Granny Smith or Red Delicious ones) made into cups with a cinnamon stick straw. That would take a lot of effort, but it would certainly look cool.
I’ve been learning so much about oktoberfest and German culture with your blog. Even when all the drinks you put up look delicious, I’ll be trying for sure the Melonenbowle mit Birne. Sounds like a perfect drink for my country, in which it is forever summer.
Some of those sound absolutely delicious, although I think I’ll skip the cola based one. The Melonenbowle mit Birne with watermelon would be a lovely drink at any Christmas party, perhaps with some mint leaves on top to add a touch of green 🙂
I am going to have to find an occasion to make the cranberry autumn bowle (without waiting 9 months until autumn, mind you!) Although I didn’t know carnations were edible…
Well, I wish I knew the proper recipe for the New Year’s Eve bowle that my German soldier brother-in-law used to make each year, way back in 1959 and 1960. He used pineapple. I remember he drained it and soaked it with some sort of alcohol (2 bottles of cognac, I believe, or maybe rum, and 3 or 4 bottles of wine). He’d let it sit in a cool dark closet for about 3 days. When it was ready to be served, he’d add champagne or sparkling wine just before serving. Not sure if he added anything else to it, but it was really very good. The drink was excellent, but if you ate the pineapple chunks, you’d get blitzed because he said the alcohol from marinating it for 3 days would soak into the pineapple. This was a drink he prepared every year in Southern Bavaria (Allgäu).
When I was in Germany, I learned how to make Bowle with brandy and fresh fruits and let it marinate for about 3-6 months, and every month you add more fruits and liquor. At the end you add champagne in it, you can put it in the refrigerator to get cold and serve it. Eat and drink, the fruit is the boomer. ????????????